Hoang Thi Ha

Lead Researcher for Political & Security Affairs, ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

Ms Hoang Thi Ha is the lead researcher for political and security affairs at the ASEAN Studies Centre of ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. Her research interests focus on political-security issues in ASEAN, ASEAN’s external relations and institutional-building within ASEAN. Ms Hoang joined the ASEAN department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam in 2004. She then worked at the ASEAN Secretariat for nine years where her last designation was Assistant Director, Head of the Political Cooperation Division. Ms Hoang holds an MA in International Relations from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Bali, Indonesia, 14 November 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

A Xi-Biden handshake does not bridge the Sino-US schism, but it's a start

The handshakes and smiles in Bali have triggered some optimism about Sino-US relations going forward. Yet the slight uptick in Sino-US relations post-Bali might well be short-lived, given the superpowers’ underlying structural competition and deep mutual distrust.
A giant stingray caught in the Mekong, June 2022. (Wonders of the Mekong/Facebook)

Can Mekong stingrays tell the Chinese dam story well?

China is crafting “wonderful stories” about its upstream dams in the Mekong. But the overall thrust of the narrative glosses over the more controversial aspects of dam building. The cure to the dying Mekong must begin with clinical analysis and honest exchange among riparian states. ISEAS researcher Hoang Thi Ha says China’s unilaterally imposed narratives are part of the problem, not the remedy.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures upon arriving for an official visit to the Philippines, at Villamor Airbase in Pasay, Metro Manila, on 5 July 2022. (Jam Sta Rosa/AFP)

Will China's 'Asian way' of building peace for Asia work?

China’s “Asian way” is an all-embracing idea and a coded language to discredit other countries’ actions that are deemed harmful to China’s strategic interests. A simple version is: the West seeks to divide through confrontation and exclusion, while the “Asian way” seeks to unite through dialogue and inclusion. ISEAS academic Hoang Thi Ha examines the validity of that narrative.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (on screen) addresses participants at the Shangri-La Dialogue summit virtually via a video link in Singapore on 11 June 2022. (Roslan Rahman/AFP)

Shangri-La Dialogue 2022: The paradox of peace and power

The duel between the ‘rule of law’ and the ‘right of might’ took centre-stage as the Shangri-La Dialogue resumed under the shadow of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Southeast Asian countries found it a hard sell to promote cooperative security and ASEAN’s broad-based mechanisms against tough talk by representatives of the major powers.
A woman walks pass the mural "No to war" by muralist Maximiliano Bagnasco in Buenos Aires on 5 March 2022. The mural is inspired by two war photographs from Ukraine and Vietnam. (Juan Mabromata/AFP)

The Russia-Ukraine war: Parallels and lessons for Vietnam

Vietnam’s nuanced approach to the Russia-Ukraine war and its refusal to single out Russia’s invasion suggest introspection in Hanoi over its foreign and defence policy calculations. Vietnam is well aware that a smaller state living next to a giant neighbour should not become a battlefield of great power conflict or depend on others for its survival. Learning from the experience of Ukraine, will it be able to strike a balance in its hedging between Washington and Beijing?
A television displays news about Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi's visit to Vietnam, at a street in Hanoi, Vietnam, 11 September 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

What Vietnam and China want from each other amid strengthening Vietnam-US ties

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid an official visit to Vietnam on 10-12 September as part of Beijing’s efforts to reassert its influence on Vietnam and pull Hanoi back from its perceived ‘tilt’ towards Washington. Hosting Wang Yi provided Vietnam with an opportunity to address existing issues in bilateral relations and certain domestic concerns, especially to secure China’s support for the Covid-19 response. However, Vietnam-China relations are fundamentally constrained by strategic distrust over the South China Sea dispute. The intensifying China-US strategic competition is another challenge for Hanoi.
A woman receives the Sinovac Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Denpasar, Indonesia's Bali island on 2 September 2021. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

Has China done well in its vaccine diplomacy in Southeast Asia?

China has supplied 190 million doses of its homegrown vaccines to Southeast Asia. However, although there has been sporadic support, perceptions of Chinese vaccines among the public in the region largely trend negatively, suggesting a non-linear relationship between China’s vaccine diplomacy and its soft power in the region. ISEAS researchers Khairulanwar Zaini and Hoang Thi Ha discuss the complex factors affecting vaccine hesitancy in six Southeast Asian countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
This picture taken and released by the Vietnam News Agency on 29 July 2021 shows US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin (centre) inspecting a guard of honour along with Vietnam's Defence Minister Phan Van Giang (left) during a welcoming ceremony in Hanoi. (STR/Vietnam News Agency/AFP)

US defence chief Lloyd Austin in Southeast Asia: Did the US strike the right notes?

Lloyd Austin’s visit to three Southeast Asian countries in July 2021 was aimed at reaffirming America’s commitment to regional alliances and partnerships amid concerns of US neglect of the region in the first six months of the Biden administration. The messages delivered during his trip, particularly in his Fullerton Lecture in Singapore, outlined the broad contours of the Biden administration’s Southeast Asia policy that goes beyond the dynamics of US-China strategic rivalry and seeks to provide a more holistic and positive agenda of US engagement with the region.
Health workers wait for their turn as Vietnam starts its official rollout of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine for health workers, at Hai Duong Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hai Duong province, Vietnam, 8 March 2021. (Thanh Hue/Reuters)

Why the Vietnamese embrace US vaccines but shun Chinese ones

The public reactions to the arrivals of Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam — one from China, the other from the US — underscore a geopolitical dilemma for the country.